Sigga Ella is a photographer from Reykjavík, Iceland whose recent photo series looks to shed light on the ethical questions of where we are headed as a society with today’s ability to choose who is born based on prenatal testing for genetic disorders such as Down syndrome. She chose twenty-one people from ages 9 months to 60 years, both male and female, to show that they are more than a 21st chromosome anomaly – they’re people.
It all started with a radio interview Ella heard where people were discussing those very questions of choosing who gets to live and who doesn’t. “Where are we headed? Will people choose not to keep an embryo if they know it has Down syndrome? I had a lovely aunt with Down syndrome, aunt Begga. It is very difficult for me to think about the elimination of Down syndrome and her at the same time,” Ella explained.
The title of her photo series comes from an article she found on the internet written by Halldóra Jónsdóttir, a 24 year old woman with Down syndrome who then became one of the subjects of Ella’s series. In the article, Halldóra wrote, “I have Down syndrome but FIRST AND FOREMOST I am Halldóra. I choose to enjoy the life I was given, to be happy with what I have, and make the best of what I've got.” Jónsdóttir's upbeat outlook is what Ella wanted to showcase in her series.
Ella spent time with each of her photo subjects so she could learn about who they each are as people in order to capture their uniqueness on camera. “Some are smiling, others giggling, and their hands and feet were placed freely. I wanted to bring out their uniqueness as individual human beings. The clothes they are wearing are all different as well, and that too draws out the fact that by no means are these people all the same, although they share the same syndrome,” Ella said.